INDICATORS POINT TO CONTINUED GROWTH IN 2016—THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO GET READY
In their latest report, “Global Construction 2030,” Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics estimate that annual worldwide construction output will expand by 85% to $15.5 trillion worldwide in 2030, with the U.S., China and India accounting for 57% of that growth.
While China should remain the world’s largest construction market, its building activity is slowing and will increase “only marginally” during these years. U.S. construction, on the other hand, is expected to grow at a 5% per year clip. America’s southern states will be the country’s construction engine over this period. And four metropolitan areas—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, which when combined are home to about 15% of the U.S. population—alone should account for 27% of the country’s entire construction output over this period. Even as speculation, this report is good news for American construction workers whose industry has yet to recover fully from the last recession.
The need for construction workers will continue to rise.
According to Construction Management in December 2015, unemployment in the construction industry has taken a nosedive.
In an annual survey of construction employment, the Associated General Contractors of America found that construction employment is currently at its highest level since January 2009. The organization also expects the latest five-year highway bill to increase labor needs in the heavy and civil engineering construction sectors.
Unfortunately, the construction industry is already struggling with labor shortages. The Wall Street Journal explains:
“Wages, particularly in residential construction, are still too low to attract enough qualified workers to the physical and sometimes dangerous work. Tightened immigration policies, meanwhile, are deterring foreign labor from returning to the U.S. And, efforts to train and recruit young trade workers atrophied in past years as many school districts focused less on certain vocational training.”
Going green will continue to attract developers and builders.
Green construction techniques continue to grow in demand and innovative approaches. According to many architectural firms, the theme that is currently emerging is the seamless integration of biology with infrastructure. Here are just two examples:
While living roofs have been around for a few years, they are just now beginning to gain popularity. Living roofs are typically made of a layer of soil and moss or grass with small plants mixed in, often becoming their own micro ecosystems. This approach brings several advantages to buildings/homes where it is applied. One advantage is added insulation and more consistent temperatures. Another benefit is rainwater filtration. With all of the plants and soil, many harmful pollutants and heavy metals are filtered through the roof before it drips into a reservoir that holds excess water. That means the building has clean water that can be used free of charge.
While it is still a work in progress, bio concrete seems to be a promising idea. The concept is simple: create a concrete that when cracked or damaged repairs itself. How? Plastic microbeads are embedded throughout the concrete when it is mixed. These beads contain bacteria known as Bacillus, a strain that can live for many years without nourishment and is known to create limestone as a waste product when active. When a crack appears in a bio concrete structure, water is all that is required to activate the bacteria. The bacteria go to work, adding new material and repairing the problem.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET READY
Evaluate how continuing growth is going to impact your work and your fleet.
With continuing economic recovery, there may be opportunities to add equipment to your fleet—both new and used—with very attractive financing terms. Talk with your accountant not just about closing year end, but also about what kinds of fleet acquisitions your company could benefit from.
Evaluate your needs for skilled workers.
More work will likely require added labor. Since we know many areas are suffering from shortages of skilled workers, you should explore options for finding more workers. You might consider a relationship with a staffing or recruiting company. Maybe you have the ability to start your own intern programs with recent high school graduates.
You should also explore equipment technologies that supplement the skill levels of the operator—like grading or payload technologies. Technologies can help less experienced operators avoid rework and stay productive through their learning curve.
Become a local expert in innovative approaches such as green building products.
Since the last recession, competition for work has been fierce. You can set yourself apart from other companies by becoming experts in an emerging area like green building products. Having the right tools and expertise might just be what helps you edge out the competition.